Sagorika Sen is the Group Manager at Publisher’s Internationalé. After joining the company six years ago as an account manager, she now looks after national digital media platforms for the company. In her own words, she has managed to transform from the ‘newbie in Australian media’ into a bankable multicultural digital solutions provider at Publisher’s Internationalé. Here, she chats with B&T about what it means to be a woman leading tech and the challenges of managing a remote team.
What does the topic of diversity in the technology sector mean to you?
I actually look at this at two levels. On the first level we have diversity within an organisation, which should go beyond mere tokenism in the name of representation. It’s giving people from diverse backgrounds -race, gender, ability, or sexual orientation – more than a seat at the table, it’s actually trying to actively listen to them and incorporating their ideas into the ‘vie quotidienne’ of an organization.
Then there’s the second tier, at a product and brand level, when you listen to diverse views. Companies get the opportunity to create radical, all-encompassing products that are relevant. As an example, at Publisher’s Internationalé we have a team that speaks over 22 languages and we quickly learned that our digital media habits are very different. We noticed that while we were all mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, we were actually mindfully engaged in our own native language through other native digital social media and news media platforms. We took the learnings offered by our own teams in Australia and overseas, blending media interaction with social and cultural nuances to build multicultural ad tech solutions for our clients. Additionally, we took a step back to understand how algorithms drive diverse audiences, how legal and cultural requirements vary and how these components work with the overall messaging strategy. An exciting part about working at Pi is that we travel extensively, to every international market our clients engage in. We eat the local food, try our hand at negotiating in local markets and conduct business meetings with a diverse group of business executives and international media. We then apply diverse insights when planning digital media internationally for our Australian clients.
From a diversity and tech perspective, I think it goes a long way when brands try to tell a multicultural, diverse story. It shows that you’re actually listening to your audiences and your audience segments as a correlation to the demographic composition of a country.
There are obviously still plenty of challenges when it comes to issues of diversity and technology. What do you see as some practical steps that could be put in place today that would make a difference for the industry?
As a digital storyteller myself, I think it’s important to change the narrative when people are really young. It starts at schools and at home when parents start giving dolls to their daughters and Lego kits to their sons.
At an industry level, it’s important to have different platforms that recognise women and to make heroes of the relatively few in executive leadership. It’s important to give them a platform and the voice. It’s important to listen to them. Most organizations form women-based committees to discuss issues around gender diversity. However, the problem is that those committees seldom have any representation from men. In order for us to change the status quo we have to get heterosexual CIS gendered men and women involved. We need to encourage and incentivize their participation. Because real change happens when we begin to have reciprocal dialogue. Events like Women Leading Tech are great platforms to have them at.
How has the shift to remote work impacted your leadership style and changed how you communicate with your team?
I became the Group Manager about two years ago and ever since then my leadership style has been flexible and adaptive. I put people first with flexibility to mould work to what a team member needs.
Considering the remote work situation, I think flexibility is important especially at the beginning, when we didn’t know what we were heading into. This allowed us to go with the flow, meet client KPIs, meet deadlines and continue to work from wherever we were –using meeting technology – and at times greet the occasional baby or pet in meetings. In addition to this two of my key team members were stuck in China and India. We took advantage of this fact and had them contribute with real time on the ground information on how these markets were responding to Covid. Ultimately it really helped me to have them as Pi’s eyes and ears on the ground.
How have you seen the pandemic impact ‘soft skills’, especially around providing support for team members?
More than ever these days EQ is more important than IQ when it comes to leadership. During the pandemic, EQ has been more important than ever. It’s about being understanding of different people and how they function remotely – there are people out there that do need more flexibility and more “open space”. Matching skills with challenges, in a flexible work model that puts the person first.
I think technology has been super helpful. As a leader, you don’t want to slack off on your KPIs and objectives. And I think with the help of remote meeting and collaborative cloud platforms we’ve been able to get stuff done and at the same time be extremely cohesive in our response to client challenges. Some of my team members have been putting longer hours due to the ‘work from home’ situation.
We support the individual situations that people have found themselves in and work around them supportively. I must say that our clients have been a big part of this process and have been a huge part of us being successful during these times.
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